Behind the scenes of The Heavy Entertainment Show Tour with Jonathan Rouse
Jonathan Rouse is a highly experienced lighting designer and programmer, and since 2013 he has been working on Robbie Williams’ tours. Currently, he is touring as lighting director and programmer for The Heavy Entertainment Show Tour based on the great lighting design of Mark Cunniffe.
After working with Mark and the design team putting together the show, from specification of equipment through to placement, Jonathan programs and focuses the lighting and operates from rehearsals through to each and every performance with a creative freedom to make the looks of the show.
Working with brightness and colors
Working with an abundance of SGM LED luminaires (119 G-4 Wash-Beams, 250 SixPacks and 180 Q-7s) for this tour, Jonathan had a familiar fixture of preference on his hands -the multipurpose and super bright Q-7: “I love the Q-7 - it’s bright, light and aesthetically pleasing. The fact there is no loss in output is great - turn it on and there it stays; so much light with so little power.
I used several hundred Q-7 strobes on Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour last year, which obviously looked hugely impressive. They’re just as good as I remembered them, and much like that previous tour, the strobe needed to be waterproof, so there was really only one company to look at. I’m not aware of another company offering waterproof LED color changing strobes!”
Jonathan Rouse on the set
Working with innovation
On the other hand, the G-4 Wash-Beam was a completely new fixture to Jonathan. Having been developed by SGM on request by Mark Cunniffe for this exact purpose, the G-4 Wash-Beam had a very specific role in the design.
“I needed a small, bright, PC lens wash light that would give me a great beam of light while in a IP65-rated housing. I have an aversion to light inside domes in outdoor situations, and the G-4 Wash-Beam was the perfect answer to my design parameters.”
“The G-4 Wash-Beams are stunning, able to side key dancers and use them as accents or blinders and beam effect lights. I really think they’re great; so light in weight and yet waterproof. I have not a negative thing to say about these - they’re rock solid.
All the SGM fixtures are great, they’re super bright and reliable. They also all produce a good variety of colors right down to very low levels, which is always key. Some songs we just have the strobes on at like a 3% glow, but then bump to full for accents - and the color doesn’t change. Things like that are critical in my opinion.”
Working with LED lights
LED lights are driving down the requirements for power supply, and this highly affects the large-scale international entertainment shows – such as The Heavy Entertainment Show Tour.
“There obviously has been a drop in power over the years - and it’s largely due to the emergence of LED in our market - just think about running 800 Xenon strobes each peaking at around 30A and then 2A for a Q-7. I think there has been a huge drop in power requirements - less generators and less diesel for them.”
No tour goes without the general challenges related to touring. In this case, the set design had a special focus on minimizing the visibility of the lamps in use while maintaining their full effect. Therefore, special mountings were made. Another challenge is the unsettled weather of Europe, why IP-rating and reliability were key and why SGM fixtures were chosen. In order to overcome every challenge along the way, a great crew is needed – and leading this crew is production manager Steve Iredale and lighting crew chief Jonathan “Sel” Sellers.
Working with a passion for lights
People in the industry each seem to have their reasons for why they find it compelling, and when speaking about it, it is not hard to notice a certain passion about lights.
Jonathan Rouse is a very skilled lighting professional, but what underlies these skills derives from emotions arising when programming, operating and designing with lights.
“I love music, and I love lighting and creating moods and environments for artists to perform in. I can’t explain what goes through my mind and body when I am sat in rehearsals and have a complete rig, and start to play a track and begin playing with looks and effects and focusses, to find a feel - a vibe - an emotion in the lighting that complements the music; it’s just great. Then articulating all the little nuances in the music and just building and building until there’s this complete symphony of light, which fits perfectly to the music. It’s just the best - I love that creative process, and then when you get the artist rehearsing or performing and you get all of their energy - it’s like a drug… I’m a very lucky person to be able to do what I enjoy and work with some of the world’s leading artists,” Jonathan concludes.